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Community Contribution

How Can CLA Help on the Journey to Self-Reliance? An Interview with the HRH2030 Program

Nov 20, 2019
Maria Castro

We asked three questions to Juan Sebastián Barco and Katy Gorentz from the USAID Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) program after their case study was named a winner in the 2019 USAID CLA Case Competition. During our conversation, they took a deeper dive on how their collaborative, evidence-driven work with the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) is contributing to Colombia’s journey to self-reliance and how their approach is already replicated in other countries where HRH2030 works.

Here is what they had to say:

Can you give an example of instances when HRH2030 used CLA to help ICBF collaborate with other actors to improve practices and processes used for referral and follow-up processes in cases of child abuse? 

Juan Sebastián: HRH2030 is supporting the government’s cross-institutional social and health framework Ni Uno Mas, or Not One More, and is also collaborating with ICBF, the National Learning Service (SENA), and the Ministry of Health (when relevant) to develop a training platform and curricula for social and health workers to ensure adherence with childcare protocols and implement better case management practices with children and families. In addition, we are supporting institutional coordination efforts by developing process maps, clarifying referral processes, and establishing better communication processes with local communities that align with Ni Uno Mas to reduce the high child mortality rates associated with all types of violence. The goal of this framework is to improve collaboration among institutional stakeholders, improve social and health sector capacities with training in basic and technical skills, and generate a link with rural communities, including indigenous populations and communities formerly affected by prolonged conflict. Colombia’s first lady, ICBF, the Ministry of Health, the private sector, and local communities worked together to establish Ni Uno Mas

Katy: The process of collaborating with ICBF  to reflect on their practices and analyze the results allowed us to work with a variety of ICBF stakeholders, from national level officials to social workers in municipality-level protection teams, to prioritize the steps that are most tangible to make improvements to the quality of the services offered to children and families. To achieve this, we used the case management assessment tool to help the protection teams visualize what optimized case management would look like if it were running at the highest quality, reflect on the status of their own case management practices, and triage and prioritize how case management can be improved to reflect the lessons learned from the assessment. From there, we’ve supported ICBF’s work with SENA to see that these ideas are reflected in social work trainings. 

How is an evidence-based approach helping ICBF and how is it taking into account sustainability, for when they are no longer working with HRH2030? How is using this approach contributing to their journey to self-reliance? 

Juan Sebastián Barco: ICBF needs better tools and evidence to make decisions, and the government of Colombia wants evidence-based actions, big data, and risk prediction. Our models are an important step in this direction. We have contributed to ICBF’s push to align with the government’s priorities by incorporating assessments that shed light on the operational and technical obstacles. The assessments also increase ICBF’s agency and stake in the process as well as its leadership. 

Katy: The HRH2030 team heavily involved ICBF from the beginning. ICBF saw the value of the information we gathered through the assessments, and they valued transparency throughout the process. In practice, collaborating helped them get valuable information that they could use right away, as they were involved in the process and thus able to analyze actual results throughout. ICBF was able to latch onto HRH2030’s approach because they saw real value every step of the way, seeing the information they needed, the work that went into it, and what data they could get out of it. As a result, they were able to see that collaborating at multiple levels could get them valuable information to inform decision-making and strategic planning. ICBF was also involved in the design, which helped them understand that this was something tangible that they could use in the future – they’re already planning to expand use of these approaches to other regions of Colombia. 

The Colombia activity is one country activity of the global HRH2030 program. Are any of the tools you used in Colombia being used in other countries with other organizations interested in measuring their development? 

Juan Sebastián: Katy can answer this question. 

Katy: HRH2030 Capacity for Malaria Building (CBM) is working on organizational maturity, organization processes, planning, and strategic thinking with National Malaria Control Programs (NMCP) in highly-endemic malaria countries. CBM uses a maturity model assessment to understand and improve organizational process performance, which really resonated with our work with ICBF. So, we adapted the maturity model approach to ICBF’s needs based on our experience with CBM. In addition, the relational coordination assessment was something that came from the Colombia activity and went to over to CBM. We used the relational coordination assessment in Colombia, which builds a culture of effective internal collaboration, to understand communication strengths and breakdowns within ICBF at the national level. Country representatives and the CBM activity team in Chad expressed interest, which led them to incorporate this approach into their baseline assessment of NMCP capacity. CBM is now incorporating that tool for all CBM activities where they are conducting organizational capacity assessments. It is an especially useful tool because it helps gather evidence for planning on internal coordination and optimization, which is usually a hard concept to quantify.

Adapting to the changing landscape of social and health workforces in Colombia requires collaboration across sectors and rapidly assessing what works. Collaborating, learning and adapting has been pivotal to HRH2030’s partnership with ICBF and will continue to be a crucial framework as the country’s capacity to provide protective services to children and adolescents is challenged by the influx of migrants from Venezuela; which is testing the country’s capacity on the journey to self-reliance.

Juan Sebastián Barco is the director for the HRH2030 Colombia activity, and Katy Gorentz is the monitoring and evaluation manager for HRH2030. HRH2030 is a global project funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics and a consortium of partners; the Colombia activity is supported by the American International Health Alliance.